Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cameron wants election to decide recovery plan.

If you had asked me six months ago if Labour could win the next election I would have laughed. Brown had sunk in the polls and Cameron had done an excellent job of re-branding the Tory party as some vaguely green new version of themselves who didn't really have any policies but wasn't that Cameron a nice man and didn't he ride a bike?

Then came the collapse of the financial markets and Brown came up with a scheme which many around the world have adopted and Cameron found himself on the sidelines shouting that Brown is being a spendthrift and implying that the UK should do nothing whilst Barack Obama and every other leader in the western world tries to spend their way out of recession.

In a nano-second he turned back into the Tories to the nasty party of the eighties who think that we should cut social programmes rather than increase taxation.

Well, he's now saying that he intends to make this the platform on which he plans to fight the next election.

Britain is at a "fork in the road" with a choice between Labour's "borrowing binge" and a Tory government that would try to halt Labour's tax rises, David Cameron said yesterday.

The Conservative leader tried to regain the initiative amid jitters in his party that Labour's claims the Opposition would "do nothing" about the recession have hurt his opinion poll ratings.

In a speech at the London School of Economics, Mr Cameron said Labour's "reckless" borrowing and "spend now, forget the future" policy could slow the economic recovery. The Tories would cut Labour's public spending plans from 2010, he said, even though the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, had already announced a squeeze on previous figures in last month's pre-Budget report.

He challenged Gordon Brown to call an immediate general election so the public could make their choice between the very different economic policies on offer from the two parties.

This is electoral suicide as every opinion poll says that the public back Brown's spending plans and think that Brown is the leader they most trust to see Britain through this financial crisis.

Of course, Brown has instantly jumped on Cameron's remarks:

Mr Brown said: "I believe there is a very clear dividing line between those who do nothing and simply let people suffer and what we are determined to do, which is to help people through these difficult times.

"We are taking bold decisions. The alternative of letting the recession take its course is one that we will not allow to happen. We will take action, working with our European and international partners at every point."

And Brown is right. Cameron is in a unique position compared to our European and American partners by insisting that we should do nothing and let the recession run it's course. This is not a position that any other world leader appears to share.

It's almost a return the bloody mindedness of Margaret Thatcher and yet that is the stall which Cameron is setting out for the next election.

As is say, six months ago I would have thought Cameron was about to waltz into Downing Street, but now I'm not so sure.

The next election is for the Tories to lose, and by setting out such a Thatcherite stall, Cameron may very well be about to do so.

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